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Multi-Finger Authentication Strengthens Smartphone Security

By Anne-Françoise Pelé

Fingerprint biometrics have become a standard security feature on smartphones, but consumers demand more from technology to securely make online shopping, banking transactions, and bill payments. For France-based Isorg SA, multi-finger authentication is the next phase in smartphone identity recognition.

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, Isorg is demonstrating a full-screen fingerprint-on-display sensor module for multi-finger smartphone authentication. It supports up to four fingers simultaneously touching a smartphone display.

More fingers, more secure
A spin-off from the CEA-Liten research institute in 2010, Isorg has developed the organic photodetector (OPD) technology, which integrates printed photodiodes on different substrates to enable large-area image sensors. It is compatible with plastic or glass substrates using TFT technology or CMOS image sensors.

(Image: Isorg)

In response to OEMs’ and end-users’ demand for a higher level of smartphone security and privacy, Isorg designed a fingerprint-on-display (FoD) module that supports one- to four-finger authentication across the entire dimensions of the 6-inch smartphone display, or even larger. Such multi-finger authentication capability aims to strengthen security for mobile banking and payments, personal health monitoring, and remote home control applications.

Why four fingers, and not five? “The logic behind ‘more fingers, more secure’ lies in the fact that the more fingers, the more fingerprint data to be matched, making it more complex to crack,” Jean-Yves Gomez, Isorg’s CEO and co-founder, told EE Times. Five-finger authentication is possible; however, “we promote four fingers instead of five because it is more user-friendly. It is easier to enroll your index to small fingers at the same time; while adding your thumb, you have to adjust your hand position.”

Flexible and foldable displays
Isorg’s FoD module is compatible with flexible and foldable displays for smartphones and wearables. “It supports curved-edged phone displays with flexible polyimide-substrate sensors, and this slim fingerprint module is thinner than 300 µm,” Gomez confirmed. “These advantages made it easily integrated into slim smartphone and foldable displays.”

Isorg’s module can be used both for indoor and outdoor environments, as it demonstrates “robust performance under various conditions, including sunlight, web, and dry fingers as required by smartphone OEMs in different test conditions,” he said.

Designed for smartphones, the full-screen FoD module could be extended to other applications such as wearables, tablets, and other similar under-display applications. The technology can also find applications in the biometrics industry (e.g., access control, border control).

The French startup said it will be sampling its FoD module to smartphone OEMs in spring 2020. Asked when we should expect to see the first smartphones implementing this module available on the market, Gomez said, “Our lead customers who are developing new smartphones are aiming to launch their products soonest. The exact new product launch will be decided by the customers based on their marketing strategy.”

Mass production in 2020
“2019 marked an important revolution for Isorg,” said Gomez. “We integrated other skills because the company has developed its own optics components and ICs for sensors. The journey we embarked on has brought us to where we wanted.”

Back in 2018, Isorg raised $26.6M (€24M) in Series C financing to conduct the different qualification steps of its production site based in Limoges. Two years later, “we are delighted to announce that the company is fully ready for mass production of our solution within 2020. We have had our products ready for commercialization and market expansion.” On the Limoges site, Isorg has a Gen 3.5 (780 × 650 mm) manufacturing line for image sensor production with supply of TFT backplane.

Headquartered in Grenoble, Isorg has a pilot line and a dedicated application team at the CEA-Liten institute. The startup also runs a small R&D line, compatible with 8-inch silicon wafers in Bordeaux, as well as sales and application offices in Hong Kong.

Isorg owns more than 60 patents and employs 70 people.

Texture Sensations on the First Haptic Smartphone Display

Bringing textures to life by changing the sensation of a surface as your finger slides over plastics, wood, and glass is the ambition of Hap2U, a France-based haptic technology startup.

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Hap2U is demonstrating what it claims is the world’s first haptic smartphone display, which allows users to feel and sense objects on touchscreens. Its Hap2phone technology was named Honoree of the 2020 CES Innovation Award.

Interactive and tangible
With the Hap2phone, Hap2U is targeting a global haptic component market that will be worth $4.8 billion by 2030, according to a recent report by IDTechEx. Haptic technologies have been used in products such as game console controllers for more than 30 years and can be found in the vast majority of smartphones, smartwatches, and electronic devices. Over the past five years, however, the research firm said it has observed a shift in the core haptic technology and “an even more significant shift in the direction of innovation efforts to develop the haptic technologies of the future.”

Founded in 2015, Hap2U has developed the so-called ultrasonic lubrication principle. As explained in a company blog post, the vibration occurs at ultrasonic frequencies (above 20 kHz) and generates a thin film of pressurized air between the finger and the screen, thus modifying the friction. The vibration can be controlled.

With a smartphone, users can sense vibrations when he or she receives a notification, receives a text message, or clicks on the glass surface. This is the vibrotactile technology. Hap2U’s technology aims to enhance the overall emotional experience by enabling texture sensations. In a statement, Chappaz explained: “Think about users on their smartphone in noisy or harsh-lighting conditions — outdoors, for example — how touch then becomes a major feature to improve their experience. HD texture sensation is a crucial interface between the user and the outside world, introducing an added level of interaction compared to traditional screens.”

Hap2U uses piezoelectric actuators to generate ultrasonic vibrations on a glass screen and modify the friction of the user’s finger. The vibration is synchronized with the position of the finger, enabling the user to feel what appears on the screen. This thin-film piezoelectric solution (2 microns) has a minimal impact on weight (<1g) and on the display power consumption (1%).

By applying a friction coefficient, Hap2U claims it can make distinct variations in touch sensations — intense or soft nicks, springs, buttons, elasticity, and all kinds of high-to-low elevation points and textures. This allows the nerve endings in the fingertips to detect different sensations and informs the brain to interpret them.

Basically, Chappaz stated, “Hap2Phone offers the physical touch experience of what users see: If there is a fish on the screen, the user feels its scales; same for a pushbutton, a slider, [or] the wheel of a car in a video game.” For manufacturers integrating screens in their products, this solves the problems related to the digitization of objects by making them both interactive and tangible.

Glass, but not only
Initially focused on glass surfaces such as smartphone and tablet screens, Hap2U said it has been working on a multi-material haptic technology and is now deploying haptics on wood, plastic, and metal.

Hap2U’s technology is not solely intended for smartphones and could find applications in the IoT, industrial, automotive, and smart building markets.

After initial seed funding in 2016, Hap2U completed in late 2018 a €4 million Series A funding round with Daimler AG to accelerate the development of its haptic technology. Headquartered in Grenoble, Hap2U now employs 30 people and expects to double to 60 by the end of 2020.

Read also: Piezo Haptic Feedback to Enhance Drivers Safety

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